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Invitation for Talk on 'The Bakhshali Square Root Approximation'


 The Mathematics Society


Ambedkar University, Delhi


invites you to a talk by


Dr. Shailesh Shirali, Director, Sahyadri School (KFI) Pune


The Bakhshali Square Root Approximation


Friday October 26, 2012


2.30 PM


Room: CR4, Kashmere Gate Campus


Abstract: The Bakhshali manuscript which is the oldest surviving document of Indian Mathematics (dating to the 5th century AD), contains a most remarkable formula for estimating square roots. In this talk we explore this formula and try to explain in modern terms why it gives such accurate results. We search for heuristic ways of deriving the formula, and then derive more such formulas. Then we explore another formula of this kind, found by Bhaskara 1 in the 7th century AD, for approximating the sine function.


The idea behind the talk is to show how elementary reasoning, accessible at the high school level, can result in very good approximations of various kinds.


Shailesh Shirali is Director of Sahyadri School (KFI), Pune, and Head of Community Mathematics Centre (`CoMaC'), Rishi Valley School (KFI), AP; earlier he served as Principal of Rishi Valley School. He has been in the field of Math education for three decades, and has been closely involved with the Math Olympiad movement in India, since its inception in the 1980's. He is the author of many math books for high school students, among them Adventures in Problem Solving, A Primer on Number Sequences, First Steps in Number Theory, A Primer on Logarithms, and Adventures in Iteration (two volumes). He also serves as an editor for the undergraduate science magazine Resonance and for the magazine At Right Angles, published jointly by CoMaC and Azim Premji University (Bangalore). He is engaged in outreach projects in teacher education through the CoMac.